Decent summer blockbusters are a bit like buses. You wait for ages, then three turn up at once. Star Wars Episode II was an enjoyable and undemanding romp whilst Minority Report is an absolute visual feast. But Spider-Man towers above them all. A witty script, gorgeous special effects and amazing performances make this one of the most enjoyable 'event' movies in recent memory. Not bad from the director who began making his first feature in an abandoned shack.
For those of you who don't know, Spider-Man is the story of mild mannered High School student Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) who is a bitten by a genetically modified (not radioactive in this version) spider. Soon he discovers that he has been imbued with the powers of a spider: he can climb up walls, has enormous strength and has the ability to fire webs. Initially he uses his powers to win the heart of Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst), but a family tragedy teaches him that he must use his powers for the greater good. At first the criminals don't know what has hit them, but when the Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) hits the scene, we begin to wonder if the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man can save the day.
It is evident throughout the film that Sam Raimi and the entire crew have been infected with some sort of enthusiasm virus. The sheer love for the characters and the film that is being created is evident in every scene. From throwaway lines that appeal to the ardent fan of the comic book, to an interesting re-telling of the Spidey origin for the uninitiated, there is really something here for everyone.
The computer generated action sequences work well, though there are times when certain shots are obviously created within cyberspace. It's worth noting how hard-hitting some of the fight sequences are (especially the climactic tussle), a sign of Raimi's refusal to churn out a 'kiddie merchandise' blockbuster. Indeed, while Raimi has professed how he was initially scared at being handed the film, it is enjoyable to see the director being limited only by his imagination. From the majestic swooping between New York cabs to the frequent moments of humour, this dazzles at almost every turn.
The performances help a lot: Maguire plays the insecure Parker to perfection whilst Dafoe is having the time of his life playing the evil Green Goblin. They also get their teeth into playing characters with dualities: both are struggling within themselves to do the right thing, but only one is succeeding. There is also fine support from Dunst and James Franco as Peter Parker's best friend who is also the son of the Goblin's alter-ego, Norman Osborne.
Although the film does begin to drag in the final third, but this is still one of the best films that you can see this summer. Let's hope that many of the others can be as good as this.
Reviewed by Laurence Boyce
Reader comments about Spider-Man
Jimjim (Email address withheld) writes:
Comic book in the worst sense with a plot that drags, a lame, lame Peter P., and the most agonisingly dull romance since whatshisname and whatshername in the last Starwars movie. Kirsten Dunst is such a sexy women, and P.P. ain't so bad. Why not go for a movie with a more developed plot and featuring some adult behaviour between men and women ie., of interest to those over 10. This is a truly dreadful movie.
Redlorryboy (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes:
Sam Raimi was the choice for this long overdue adaptation, and rightly so, The Evil Dead Trilogy being the purest prophesy of the place of cinema in this age. It is all editing.. the ability to suggest is so much improved today.. to cut between distinct 1/100th's of a second... allowed this film to be made.. Raimi is not a developer of character.. neither were the original comics full of characters.. the marriage was perfection.. the comics encaspulated moments in gawdy ink and Raimi linked them with the help of an Apple Mac no doubt..!! ..anyone who did not know what to expect when going to watch this film is an idiot..!! ... i know what i expected.. i emerged a little thrilled.. disappointed.. and feeling cynical.. ..to guage whether you might agree with what i'm saying, my idea of a good film is Hitchcock, Scorsese, Chevvy Chase, Truffuat, Goddard, Capra, In the Mood for Love, some Kubrick, James Cagney, The Coens, Meet the Parents, Jimmy Stewart and Dogme.
Scott P (Email address withheld) writes:
I Thought spiderman was average since, It had some poor touches, but it was enjoyable never the less.
zero g (Email address withheld) writes:
I did'nt think that some of these actors would pull off acting as characters in this movie, but somehow...it worked for me.I was'nt worried about Willem Dafoe though.The green goblin is one of my favorite characters and his performance was exellent.Thank you Mr. Dafoe.
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